Coffee and chocolate, the fuel of writers
It has begun, the writing extravaganza known as Nanowrimo. Fingers fly over keyboards, words spilling onto the computer screens. Then being deleted, written again and perhaps now a whole paragraph is gone.
This is the time to embrace the crazy. Follow your characters over the cliff, discover a new subplot or perhaps find that a character needs more play.
Accept that this draft will be crappy and messy. The point of doing this is not perfection with every word but to get the words onto the page. This manuscript will not be ready for submissions December 1st.
It will however be ready for you to shape, edit your words to be ready for submissions. But that comes later.
Right now comes the crazy. This is the moment to write about your new best friend, the two headed, fire breathing unicorn.
In just a few days Nanowrimo officially begins! The next few weeks will be full of challenging creativity. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. While this a competition, this is not a race against others but with others.
Schedule your writing time. Whether it means getting up earlier . Some days you may have more time to write than others. Honor the time you have set aside.
Join local write ins. This will help you connect to other writers. Don’t forget the online community as well. Join in on the fun on Twitter by following the #Nanowrimo.
Most of all enjoy the process! You may find you have a first draft to polish in December or a head start towards your first draft.
After asking the question What if? And developing your characters. It is now time to decide to plot or not to plot.
Some like to see where the story takes them. Namely without plotting out your novel. This can be fun, adventurous and frustrating. Having done this, I found myself hitting roadblock. Often unsure of what will happen next.
Plotting can give you direction. It is helpful in knowing what will come next, which scenes to focus on. Connecting the dots between those smaller scenes to the larger scenes.
I prefer a happy medium. Enough of an outline and character development to lead the way. However still enough flexibility for those fly the pants moments. On other words a firm Plantser.
After filling in your question to What if?
Now is time to fill in the blanks.
I usually begin with characters. They are the prism in which your story is told. Who are your main characters? Who are your minor characters?
Knowing who they are makes it easier to plot. That is if choose to do so, more on that in another post.
Fully develop your characters. Really get into their heads. Question both your hero’s and antagonists motivations. Interview them. By understanding who they are, it will help to understand the story you want to tell.
So perhaps you have decided to participate in Nanowrimo. The next thing that your thinking is what now?
This is the time to prepare, outline, characters and plot. You can either plan or you can fly by your pants.
Some will prefer to use detailed outlines. Others not as much.
Maybe right now all you have a vague notion. A sentence beginning with those iconic words What If?
All you need right now is the rest of the question. This is your starting point.
It is midway into the first week of Nanowrimo!
It is that point where either one feels between feeling motivated and questioning sanity.
Put down that paper bag, you are right where you should be at this point.
Has your plot fallen apart? Grab onto that one aspect that has not . This will be like bread crumbs, lead you back to your story. Listen to what your characters are telling you.
This is the fun of Nano, it pushes you as a writer. You have to be consistent with your writing time. This helped me learn how to manage my time and schedule writing. Knowing that I only had this specific time to write forced me to productive. The muse can only come if you are already beckoning them.
Some days your fingers will fly over the keyboard. Others you will want to bang your head on the keyboard.
Welcome to the life of a writer.
Short on time? Squeeze in wordage when you can. Email yourself or create a document in Google. All those times waiting in line, waiting on kids, friends etc.
Keep going, keep going, keep going! The worst that can happen is you write a terrible first draft, learn a lot about writing and yourself in the process.